“This is a project that focuses on the Mediterranean, on the spirit of internal cohesion and identity of the countries invol-ved”.
In this way, Anna Catte, Director of the Managing Authority defined the MedDiet project during the final conference held at Expo.
“The most positive aspect - she said - is that MedDiet is helping to demonstrate that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are not reflected only on people but also on local eco-nomies and is strengthening the spirit of internal cohesion as well as the identity of the countries involved. Not least, the fact that it helps to improve the image of the Mediterranean region on the outside”.
The MedDiet Final Conference has been the occasion to represent the strategic importance of a project that operates at several levels. Three main pillars form the basis of the MedDiet project, the first of which is the creation of a shared knowledge system of the Mediterranean diet, the second is leading a process of nutritional education in schools and for final consumers and, the third pillar is capacity building of local authorities and the creation of a legal framework for the protection of the Mediterranean Diet heritage in the Southern Mediterranean countries.
With action targeted at schools, local government and private buisnesses, the MedDiet project works to improve the sustainability of food consumption patterns in the Mediterranean basin by preserving the Mediterranean diet, a common cultural heritage which is currently under threat.
The Mediterranean diet, beyond being a healthy diet also includes a set of skills, knowledge and traditions going from farm to fork.
Its promotion among consumers, especially young people and children cultural heritage, helps to prevent diseases.
By spreading the know-how of the Mediterranean diet among farmers, food producers and restaurants the project aids in proposing a genuine Mediterranean Diet brand, which will stimulate the local economy and increase environmental sustainability.
In order to preserve the heritage of the Mediterranean Diet on the long term, the MedDiet project also works to increase the capacity of local authorities and reinforces national institutions for the protection and safeguarding of the Mediterranean Diet in the partner countries with a regulatory framework.
The MedDiet Capitalization Event has also represented an opportunity to demonstrate the interest of Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia to become a part of the UNESCO Intangible Heritage of the Mediterranean Diet and then find emblematic communities in their countries.
This process, with the help of the presidency of Italy, could lead to a positive outcome within the period of six months. During this time, Italy, that is coordinated by Ministry of Agriculture and that represents the countries of the Mediterranean Diet already recognized as a part of the UNESCO Intangible Heritage, will help the three countries to see recognized their ‘Mediterranean diet’ as the ‘Heritage of Humanity’.
The objective of the process will not only ensure their support to be shortlisted but also to enhance the opportunities for intercultural and interreligious dialogue between different realities starting from the element that unites all: eating together, the lifestyle, the conviviality in mutual respect for diversity.
Also Alaa Ezz, the Secretary General of CEEBA, underlined that “We do not speak only about ingredients, production processes and the food itself, but about the way we eat, the way we treat it and how we look at food as a part of life”.
“At the same time we want to create a network of solidarity and support from the local authorities and international organizations and spread the concept to children in schools: all this is a part of hundreds of activities that the partners in the project have conducted in three years under the project MetDiet”.
For the Secretary General of the Confederation of Egyp¬tian European Business Associations, the MedDiet project itself is “an opportunity to preserve our cultural heritage as well as an economic benefit that is seen in two ways: promotion of the traditional food stuff export from Mediterranean countries and the attempt to attract cultural tourism, which accounts for about 7% of world tourism”
Here are some numbers on the initiatives already put in place under the project during the last three years in Italy, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia: 118.000 con-sumers, 4.800 children of 160 schools, 1.200 teachers, 355 officials of national political institutions, 240 restaurateurs, 160 school administrators, promoters of 160 local authorities, 20 officials of the Chambers of Commerce have been involved
In total, 48.200 MedDiet tool kits have been distributed, 20 Info points have been created, 165 events have been organized on nutrition during three years, 126 Declarations for the Protection of the Mediterranean Diet have been signed and 90 institutions of the Mediterranean countries have been involved.
“The results that we presented - explained Amedeo Del Principe, the MedDiet Project Coordinator on behalf of Unioncamere - are the results of a very important project that has managed to share some tools from 6 Mediterranean countries starting with the MedDiet Pyramid.”
“We achieved the objectives that we have set, in other words we have shared the scientific basis of the Mediterranean Diet and, above all, we have created a link between the Medi-terranean diet and typical and traditional products of the individual countries”.
“This competitive leverage - concluded Amedeo Del Principe - can create a real benefit for small and medium enterprises in the Mediterranean basin and, at the same time, bring important results in terms of international export”.
The Final Conference has been closed with the signing of the Declaration for the Safeguard and Promotion of the Mediterranean Diet by all participants and, in particular, by ministers and representatives of institutions.